Alaska Senate Republican candidate Joe Miller took to Fox News on Monday to explain why his security detail ended up handcuffing and detaining a reporter at a public town hall on Sunday.
Offering his defense to a favored cable audience, Miller insisted that Tony Hopfinger, the editor of the website Alaska Dispatch, "planned" to badger him with questions going so far as to follow him into the bathroom. The "arrest," Miller added, occurred only after he was off the premises and because Hopfinger had been unruly.
"He asked about the Fairbanks Northstar Borough thing," Miller said, referencing accusations that he used borough equipment in the unsuccessful 2008 attempt to oust state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich. "I answered one question and he kept at it. So I turned around and I left... And after I left the building, the security team that the contract required us to have arrested him because he pushed one of their individuals. But the reason why this whole thing is curious, I have not told any outlet this before, but at the beginning of this event, the blogger, he actually followed me into the restroom... This guy is kind of getting in your personal space, this is just absolutely crossing the line. But the blog that he worked for has had a history of being quite unfair in its approach to our campaign and so this kind behavior should not be taken as a surprise."
According to Miller, the presence of a private security firm was not his call. The public school demanded that he hire the detail prior to coming to the town hall meeting. As for the notion that detaining a reporter against his will wasn't perhaps the best demonstration of First Amendment rights, Miller re-affirmed his love of the Constitution.
"Well, I have been the most transparent, most successful candidate of the three. That town hall meeting was full of people with questions and we answered them. So, if anybody is going to talk about the First Amendment, we are huge proponents of it and we like to have the free exchange of ideas and that is what happened up until this guy just starting crossing the line and we think it was probably planned, I mean, following the candidate into the restroom. I mean come on..."
It's impossible not to note the media politics at play here. Miller has closed himself off to local reporters asking about anything dealing with his past record. He has declined to partake in a debate Monday night hosted by the Alaska Dispatch (which is not a blog but a for-profit news site). And a security firm that his campaign had contracted handcuffed a reporter on Sunday evening. And yet, Fox New's Neil Cavuto granted him a largely favorable forum to explain away the incident with little evident sympathy for his fellow members of the Fourth Estate.
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